Nobody can accuse the Army’s acquisition system of thinking small. The Army has a nearly three-decades-long history of inventing massive, highly integrated and extremely complex modernization programs that go through years of research and development, cost billions of dollars and, in the end, often produce nothing. In contrast to these difficulties, the Army is really good at developing modifications and upgrades to existing platforms and systems that not only extend their life but improve their effectiveness. The Abrams, Bradley, Stryker, Paladin, Blackhawk, Apache and Chinook have all undergone successful upgrades, sometimes more than once. So it is unsettling to see that the Army hasn’t learned from its own history. It is still creating large, complex, all-encompassing and expensive programs. The latest example is the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System which goes by the less wieldy initials IBCS. I have written a commentary on this program here.
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